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The AAdvantage program offers dozens of ways to earn miles — in fact, we've tallied 36 ways to earn AAdvantage miles. Whether you're looking to boost your AAdvantage miles balance or earn Loyalty Points toward AAdvantage elite status, it's worth utilizing as many of these earning opportunities as possible. One of the underappreciated ways to earn miles is AAdvantage Dining.
Let's show you how to utilize the AAdvantage dining program to effortlessly earn AAdvantage miles when you dine out.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
What Is AAdvantage Dining?
AAdvantage Dining is the American Airlines dining rewards portal — which lets you earn AAdvantage miles from dining purchases at eligible restaurants. By enrolling a card in the program and using it at AAdvantage Dining restaurants, you'll automatically earn AAdvantage miles each time you dine.
Best of all, these earnings are in addition to the points or miles you earn through your credit card — not instead of. That means you can use an AAdvantage credit card and AA dining to double-dip your mileage earnings.
» Learn more: Your guide to the American Airlines AAdvantage program
How to earn miles through AAdvantage Dining
AAdvantage Dining members earn a base of one mile per dollar spent at participating restaurants. However, you can boost that earning rate to three miles per dollar just by electing to receive emails from AAdvantage Dining. That makes opting into emails an obvious — but critical — choice at enrollment.
The best part: You don't need to do anything special at the restaurant to earn these miles. There's no need to show a membership card or get a punch on a "frequent diner" punch card. All you need to do is pay with an enrolled credit card to earn AAdvantage miles effortlessly.
AAdvantage Dining VIP membership
Frequent diners are rewarded with even more miles. After completing 11 qualifying dines in a calendar year, you'll achieve "VIP" status. Starting with your 12th qualifying dine, you'll earn five miles per dollar spent. And you'll continue to earn at this rate through the end of the next calendar year.
In addition to a higher earning rate, you'll also be able to earn miles at more restaurants than standard members. VIP members also get direct access to a VIP Member Services helpline if they have an issue or concern.
American Airlines Dining new member bonus
The AAdvantage Dining program often offers new members a chance to earn bonus miles for completing set tasks within a specific time frame after enrolling. For example, at the time of writing, new members can earn 1,000 bonus miles by spending $25 or more within the first 30 days after enrolling in a new account.
Make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions for this new member bonus. For example, some new member bonus offers require you to complete an online review of the restaurant to qualify for the bonus. And this requirement may not be disclosed in every place this bonus is advertised.
Also, remember that these bonus miles won't count as Loyalty Points toward elite status. That's because they're classified as "bonus miles," and the new program doesn't count these types of mileage earnings toward elite status.
How to find an eligible AAdvantage Dining restaurant
AA Dining has compiled thousands of participating restaurants across the country. To find the restaurants closest to you, go to the AAdvantage Dining search page and enter either your ZIP code or city name. Unless you specify, the search results will initially list all restaurant options within 30 miles.
You can narrow down the options by entering a restaurant name or type of cuisine.
Note that participating restaurants can be highly centralized in big cities. For example, there are around 3,000 participating restaurants within 30 miles of the heart of New York City. However, AAdvantage Dining only offers 16 restaurants within 30 miles of Odessa, Texas — including four Jack in the Box locations.
» Learn more: The pros and cons of American Airlines' loyalty program
Choosing between dining programs
Many U.S.-based airlines offer a similar dining rewards program. Savvy points and miles maximizers might wonder if you can enroll in all of these programs to earn miles in each program whenever you dine. Unfortunately, this isn't possible.
The same company — Rewards Network — operates all of these dining portals. So, enrolling a credit card with one program will automatically unenroll that card from any other dining program.
Another limitation is that you can't stack Citi Merchant Offers with the AAdvantage Dining program. When you enroll a Citi card in a dining-related Citi Merchant Offer, that card is removed from all airline dining rewards programs. That means you'll need to decide whether to earn miles through the AA dining rewards program or earn cashback on enrolled dining purchases via Citi Merchant Offers — you can't do both.
Stacking American Airlines Dining and credit cards
To really rack up the AAdvantage miles, you'll want to enroll an AAdvantage credit card in the AAdvantage Dining program. That way, you'll earn AAdvantage miles through your credit card purchase and the dining program.
To maximize your earnings, you'll want to achieve "VIP" status and use an AAdvantage credit card that rewards dining purchases. For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® earns two AAdvantage miles per dollar spent at restaurants. By enrolling this card in AAdvantage Dining and using it at participating restaurants, a VIP member would earn a combined seven AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on dining purchases.
NerdWallet finds the base value of AAdvantage miles is 1.5 cents each — although you can often get more value than that through Web Special and premium cabin awards.
Also, frequent diners could conceivably earn AAdvantage elite status just from dining out. At a maximum earning rate of six Loyalty Points per dollar spent — five from VIP status and one from credit card spending — you'd need to spend $5,000 on qualifying dines to earn 30,000 Loyalty Points. That's enough to earn AAdvantage Gold elite status.
If you're looking to earn American Airlines miles through AAdvantage Dining …
The first step to earning AAdvantage miles from your restaurant purchases is enrolling in AAdvantage Dining. When you do, note the requirements to earn a new member bonus — if one is being offered — and make sure to opt into receiving emails. Then enroll a card and find a participating restaurant to start earning 3x miles on dining purchases.
Those serious about accumulating AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points will want to use an AAdvantage credit card and complete at least 11 qualifying dines. That way, you'll earn "VIP" status and begin earning 5x miles on qualifying dines through the end of the next calendar year. Then, make sure to keep eating at participating restaurants to rack up the miles.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card